Hello! I’m Irene, and I’ve been volunteering for Tatu Project for about 3 months.
During all this time, I’ve experienced many feelings; I even dare to say that my happiness level has increased. It’s amazing to feel such a comfort and, undoubtedly, this country and its wonderful people contribute to it. You feel at home from the first day; but the strangest thing is that amidst all the chaos of the city of Moshi, one finds inner peace.
I could highlight many things, but what’s most meaningful for me is to work on the jewellery project with the Masaai. They are amazing, and to be able to know personally this culture is a gift for me. Together with my partner Sandy, I’m in charge of coordinating this project, which was born from the idea of working with the Masaai women’s group of the community of Msitu wa Tembo so that they can take for themselves the jewellery business that they design and thus promoting their culture and traditional handcrafts. This is intended to achieve the empowerment of this group, so they can achieve autonomy and self-determination. This business experience also enhances teamwork and economic opportunities within this culture that revolves mostly around cattle.
One of the things that made me really happy was to attend a Masaai celebration. Sandy, Ramon and me went there and our feeling wasn’t that of being a mzungu (white tourist), but, on the contrary, they made us feel as if we were part of the party; we participated in it and even danced with them to the tune of their rites! First of all lots of women, wearing their colourful fabrics and loaded with all the jewellery, came out; some of them could hardly see anything with all that stuff hanging from their heads. They formed half a circle and started to sing something like a mantra; then went on to leap in pairs who emerged from the extremes, closing the circle. Sandy and I joined them, but at that moment I didn’t know what to do! It was all so surrealist, I found myself there with them…I could only laugh a lot and enjoy it.
Then they took our hands and invited us to enter one of the mud houses, once there, they brought us goat meat, a soda (yes, coke reaches any corner of the world!) and a large bowl of ‘pilao’ (rice with species) which we all ate with our hands, it was really authentic! People kept coming into the house, and the Masaai who was with us asked me to take a ‘picha, picha’ (picture, picture) of everyone coming in. Now I have pictures of almost all the tribe members! As I say, I’m very lucky of having these little treasures with me, but above all, to have lived this ‘magical’ experience… and there, with all that, you understand that you need nothing, that few things can make you feel so happy.
Afterwards the men came out singing too; they walked in single line, and then, forming a semicircle, they started to jump… some of them seemed to fly!
Every day I thank Africa for making me feel, during these three months, more alive than ever.
I’m writing all this in a dala-dala (minibus) on the way to Msitu wa Tembo, the community which I visit every Tuesday. It is when I do this way that I have time to stop and feel all what I told you in these lines.
‘If you are not happy with all what you have, neither will you be with all what you lack’